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Lebanon Heads for Showdown as Reform Vows Fail to Quell Protests

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 9:25am

(Bloomberg) -- Lebanese officials were scrambling to finalize a plan to avert a financial meltdown as tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets nationwide for a fourth straight day, demanding the ouster of a political class they blame for rampant corruption and worsening living standards.Prime Minister Saad Hariri held talks with some of his coalition partners on Sunday, two days after he gave them 72 hours to back reforms to rebuild confidence. The plan envisages contributions from banks to help lower public debt servicing without raising taxes on citizens, Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil said.The proposals also include imposing a “wealth tax” while leaving wages intact, Industry Minister Wael Abou Faour said.But those pledges have done little to end protests that broke out Thursday over a decision, later rescinded, to tax WhatsApp calls. Drone footage showed a sea of people marching through the upscale streets of downtown Beirut near Hariri’s headquarters.“What they’re offering now is too little too late,” said Sami Nader, head of the Beirut-based Levant Institute.Inequality, UnemploymentThe cause of Lebanon’s protests bears a striking resemblance to upheavals sweeping the region from Algeria to Iraq: rising inequality, growing unemployment and accusations that the elite have lined their pocket at the expense of the nation.But Lebanon’s sectarian politics and the influence of regional rivals such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, along with one of the world’s highest debt burdens, have made it harder for analysts to predict an easy way out.Gulf powers led by Saudi Arabia, dismayed at the unchecked influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah, have largely ignored Hariri’s pleas for aid. Hezbollah, a militant group with representatives in cabinet and parliament, has resisted calls to loosen its grip on power.The result was captured by one protester who spoke on local television to thank the ruling elite for uniting all sects “to demand their resignation. Leave!”Against this backdrop, banks said they’ll stay shuttered on Monday to repair damage from previous demonstrations in the hope that the government can take steps to restore stability.Four ministers from a major Christian party, the Lebanese Forces, stood down late Saturday, saying they had no faith in the government’s ability to deliver.Hezbollah and its allies, primarily the Free Patriotic Movement led by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, want to preserve the government, warning that the alternative would only lead to chaos. The Hezbollah coalition holds a majority in parliament and the cabinet.Observers doubt that the planned road map would ease tension on the streets given the magnitude of the demonstrations that have spread to regions known for their loyalty to political leaders such as the parliamentary speaker, Nabih Berri, and Hezbollah’s chief Hasan Nasrallah.Protesters have filled up the streets of the capital, insisting their demonstration is peaceful and nonsectarian and would continue until the fall of the government. Fistfights erupted in the southern town of Tyre and Aley in Mount Lebanon Saturday, where protesters clashed with supporters of Berri and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.Berri, who has been house speaker for nearly 28 years, is the head of one of the largest Shiite parties in the country and is a longtime ally of Hezbollah. Some protesters say armed men tried to dispel protests in Tyre, with Berri’s party vowing to investigate the incident.“I love Berri but we want to eat. We are hungry. We are poor,” one protester said.To contact the reporter on this story: Dana Khraiche in Beirut at dkhraiche@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Alaa Shahine, Paul AbelskyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Detroit-area men who sent millions to Yemen spared prison

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 9:19am

A group of Detroit-area men opened bank accounts to move millions of dollars to Yemen, their war-torn native country. One by one, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn declined to send them to prison, despite guidelines that call for a few years or more behind bars. The Detroit area is believed to have the highest U.S. population of Yemenis, a demographic that has risen amid war in Yemen that has killed tens of thousands of people and left millions more with food and health care shortages.


Pompeo, Graham Back Trump Approach to Turkey’s Syrian Incursion

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 9:16am

(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Michael Pompeo led the defenders of President Donald Trump’s handling of Turkey’s incursion into Syria, saying Sunday that a cease-fire is holding and that U.S. goals in the Middle East are being met despite criticism allies are being betrayed.Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a recent sharp critic of Trump’s Syria policy, also came around, saying the president was “thinking out of the box.” Earlier in the month Graham suggested Trump’s withdrawal from northern Syria made him want to vomit.Pompeo said he received a report Sunday morning of “relatively little” fighting along the Syrian border after he and Vice President Mike Pence brokered a temporary cease-fire with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara last week. He insisted U.S. interests, including preventing ethnic cleansing of the Kurds in the region and a resurgence of the Islamic State, or ISIS, are being served.“I’m very confident that this administration’s efforts to crush ISIS will continue,” Pompeo said on ABC’s “This Week.”Parallel UniverseBut New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and others on the Sunday morning political shows called the administration’s actions a mistake that abandons the Kurds and other allies while bolstering Russia’s position in the Middle East.“I think the secretary lives in a parallel, alternative universe,” Menendez said on ABC.Former Army General David Petraeus said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the U.S. has abandoned its Syrian Kurdish partners and called the U.S. actions “a grave, strategic mistake.”“This does not end an endless war,” he said. “It probably prolongs it.”Critics say Trump gave Erdogan a green light to attack American-allied Kurdish militias, risking a resurgence of the Islamic State and a slaughter of the Kurds, when he pulled U.S. troops out of Syria.Policy by TweetThe president often makes policy on the fly, said Pete Buttigieg, a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful. “What President Trump does is wake up in the morning and have a phone call or maybe a tweet and completely change years or even decades of U.S. policy, surprising his own generals and country,” Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, who left the Republican Party this year, said Trump knew what Turkey was going to do and can’t justify his response now.“You don’t wait ’till after withdrawing the troops to make a plan to go pressure Turkey to ease up and then call for a cease-fire,” Amash said on ‘Meet the Press.” “I think it’s very difficult to put it all back together.”Trump said in a tweet Sunday morning that the cease-fire is “holding up very nicely,” citing U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper -- whom he called “Mark Esperanto” before correcting the spelling after almost two hours.Esper said U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State to prevent is resurgence, the Associated Press reported.Graham, who’s been a harsh critic of Trump’s Syria actions, said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that he spoke with the president this weekend and now sees a “historic” result possible in Syria that protects oil interests.“President Trump is thinking outside the box,” Graham said. “I think we can end Syria successfully.”House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in Jordan this weekend, leading bipartisan talks about Turkey’s incursion into Syria.‘Kangaroo Court’“With the deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey’s incursion, our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact to regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to ISIS, Iran and Russia,” Pelosi’s office said in a statement on Saturday.Pompeo, meanwhile, rejected accusations that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine for political reasons, saying “I never saw that in the decision-making process that I was a part of.”He also said is “deeply unfair” that state department lawyers are not allowed into depositions that Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has been holding in private as part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump.“This has been unfair in the Nth degree,” Pompeo said. “Adam Schiff ought to be embarrassed by the kangaroo court that he’s running.”Pompeo declined to answer questions about State Department officials testifying and controversies swirling around Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney. Asked whether he will appear if called by Congress, Pompeo said, “I’ll do everything I’m required to do by law.”Menendez said Pompeo and the State Department “have done everything humanly possible to impede, to obstruct and not to provide information,” and it’s clear that Trump tried to “extort” Ukraine in what he called the “weaponizing U.S. foreign assistance.”\--With assistance from Hailey Waller.To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Niquette in Columbus at mniquette@bloomberg.net;Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Kevin Whitelaw at kwhitelaw@bloomberg.net, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


The Latest: Kurdish fighters pull out of Syrian border town

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 9:12am

A spokesman for the main Kurdish-led group in Syria says their fighters have evacuated the northern town of Ras al-Ayn, saying they have no armed presence there anymore. Kino Gabriel of the Syrian Democratic Forces said Sunday's evacuation was part of the agreement to pause military operations with Turkey with American mediation. The withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from Ras al-Ayn would open the way for them to leave a broader swath of territory along the Syria-Turkey border, as part of an agreement reached between the U.S. and Turkey.


Burmese fishermen 'faint' after mistaking $20 million of floating crystal meth for natural deodorant

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 8:18am

Sacks of crystal meth scooped from the sea by Burmese fishermen who mistook it for a deodorant substance had a street value of $20 million (£15.4m), an official said on Sunday, in a country believed to be the world's largest methamphetamine producer. The accidental drug haul off Burma's coastal Ayeyarwady region occurred when fishermen spotted a total of 23 sacks floating in the Andaman Sea on Wednesday. Each one contained plastic-wrapped bags labelled as Chinese green tea - packaging commonly used by Southeast Asian crime gangs to smuggle crystal meth to far-flung destinations including Japan, South Korea and Australia. Locals were mystified by the crystallised substance in the sacks, Zaw Win, a local official of the National League for Democracy party who assisted the fishermen and police, told AFP. At first, they assumed it was a natural deodorant chemical known as potassium alum, which is widely used in Burma. "So they burned it, and some of them almost fainted," he said. They informed the police, who on Thursday combed a beach and found an additional two sacks of the same substance - bringing the total to 691 kilogrammes (1,500 pounds) which would be worth about $20.2 million (£15.6m), Zaw Win said. "In my entire life and my parents' lifetime, we have never seen drugs floating in the ocean before," he said. The massive haul was sent on Sunday to Pyapon district police, who declined to comment on it. Burma's multi-billion-dollar drug industry is centred in eastern Shan state, whose poppy-covered hills are ideal cover for illicit production labs. Made-in-Burma crystal meth - better known as ice - is smuggled out of the country to more lucrative markets using routes carved out by narco gangs through Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. A study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says that Southeast Asia's crime groups are netting more than $60 billion a year - a conservative estimate, according to experts - thanks to a sophisticated smuggling and money-laundering operation. In March, Burma authorities seized more than 1,700 kilogrammes of crystal meth worth nearly $29 million, which police said at the time was their biggest drug haul this year.


Back Johnson or Risk No-Deal Brexit, Minister Warns Parliament

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 8:01am

(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Great Britain could crash out of the European Union on Oct. 31 if Parliament rejects Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, a leading cabinet minister warned.Michael Gove said he was confident the prime minister had enough support in Parliament to get the agreement over the line as he warned that lawmakers had increased the risk of a no-deal Brexit by forcing Johnson to ask the EU for a delay. A vote on the plan could come as soon as this week.“If we don’t back this deal, then the risk is that the European Council may not grant an extension,” Gove, who is in charge of no-deal Brexit preparations, told Sky TV’s “Sophy Ridge on Sunday” show. “We can’t bet on that. It’s not a sure thing.”Bound by a law he opposed, Johnson on Saturday formally asked the EU to delay Brexit until Jan. 31. But he made clear that he’d rather Britain leave without delay and refused to sign the letter requesting an extension to his Oct. 31 target. European Council President Donald Tusk will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react.The move came after a day of drama in a rare Saturday sitting of the House of Commons, where lawmakers denied Johnson the chance of putting his newly minted deal to the test by voting 322 to 306 in favor of an amendment by former Tory minister Oliver Letwin that basically required him to ask the EU for the delay.EU ReactionHours after the vote, French President Emmanuel Macron made it clear the deal had been negotiated and that further delay in Britain’s departure was “in no one’s interest.” However, Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne said Sunday that it would be “sensible” to grant an extension. A unanimous agreement among EU nations is needed to approve a delay.Johnson now plans to push through the legislation needed to take Britain out of the EU at the end of the month, and the slender margin of Saturday’s vote suggests he could succeed.The Withdrawal Agreement Bill could begin its journey as soon as Tuesday, after Johnson makes another attempt on Monday to get Parliament to sign off on the principle of his deal. If a vote is permitted tomorrow and Johnson wins, he could withdraw the request for an extension.“We’re going to deliver by the 31st of October,” Gove said. “We are going to ensure that we get this deal done and I’m confident that with the support of good people with whom we may have disagreed in the past, but who respect democracy, we will get this deal done.”Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also expressed optimism, telling BBC TV’s “Andrew Marr” show that “we appear to have the numbers to get this through.”Johnson received a boost earlier Sunday when former cabinet minister Amber Rudd, who walked out of the government and the Tory party in protest at the expulsion of 21 colleagues, said she and many among those kicked out are ready to support his deal.“We do want to leave with a deal and this deal from the prime minister is good enough for me,” said Rudd, who backed the Letwin amendment that forced the delay.Pound BracedJohnson also has the support of a small number of Labour MPs, though he may struggle to win over many more with the party calculating that a wounded Johnson would be easier to take on in the likely general to come. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is seeking safeguards over issues from the environment to workers’ rights, and crucially wants any deal to be put to another referendum with an option to stay in the EU. His key problem could lie in wooing back his allies in the Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 votes on Saturday made the difference between defeat and victory. The Northern Irish party has deep reservations about anything that creates any kind of border between Britain and Northern Ireland, such as customs checks in the Irish Sea, and wants a stronger consent mechanism that hands a greater say to the regional assembly.Johnson’s setback on Saturday could hit the pound when trading resumes, though any weakness in the currency may be short lived, analysts at Credit Agricole and Natwest Markets wrote in research notes. Even though political uncertainty remains, both banks see a diminishing risk of the U.K. crashing out of the bloc without a deal, with Credit Agricole predicting the pound reaching $1.36 and Natwest forecasting $1.35.To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Atkinson in London at a.atkinson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.net, Andrew Davis, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


10 things you need to know today: October 20, 2019

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 7:50am

1.President Trump announced Saturday night that he is no longer planning to host the 2020 Group of Seven summit at the Trump National Doral Miami resort near Miami, Florida. In a series of tweets Trump explained that his decision was the result of the backlash he received, a fair amount of which was centered around accusations of self-dealing corruption. Trump did not give up the plan lightly, however. In the tweetstorm, he blamed the media and the Democratic party for their "Crazed and Irrational Hostility" and maintained he thought he was "doing something very good for our Country" and was not seeking any profit. The president also said the White House will begin searching for another host site immediately, and Camp David, a presidential retreat in Maryland, is under consideration. [The Washington Post, The New York Times] 2.U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union on Saturday evening requesting another Brexit delay after Parliament passed an amendment requiring him to do so before voting on the deal he brokered with the EU on Thursday. Johnson reportedly included a second letter, which he did sign, saying that he believes a delay would be a mistake. EU Council President Donald Tusk confirmed the letter had arrived and said he would consult with other EU leaders on how to react. The British government insisted Sunday that Brexit will happen on Oct. 31 regardless of the letter Johnson sent, though opposition MPs have warned Johnson that if he tries to circumvent Parliament, he may find himself in court. Johnson has maintained he will move forward with his Brexit legislation next week. [BBC, Reuters.] 3.Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday that all U.S. troops leaving Syria will be re-stationed in western Iraq where they will continue to conduct preventative operations against the Islamic State, and he did not rule out counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria. The plan calls for about 1,000 troops to head to Iraq, adding to the more than 5,000 troops currently in the country. "Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that's the game plan right now," Esper said. The secretary added that he will talk with U.S. allies at a NATO meeting next week to discuss how to handle military operations to block any resurgence from ISIS. [NBC News, The Associated Press] 4.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Jordan, a staunch U.S. ally in the Middle East, on Saturday for an unannounced visit to discuss the Turkish military offensive in northern Syria with Jordan's King Abdullah II. "With the deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey's incursion, our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact of regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to ISIS, Iran, and Russia," Pelosi's office said in a statement. The delegation also reportedly touched on a broader range of topics including counterterrorism and security, the Middle East peace process, and economic development. [The New York Times, The Guardian] 5.Thousands of pro-democracy, anti-Beijing protesters gathered once again Sunday in Hong Kong to march in defiance of a police ban, marking the 20th consecutive of weekend of protests. After a peaceful start, the demonstrations grew increasingly violent throughout the day, and a group of protesters reportedly hurled petrol bombs at a police station. Some protesters reportedly used an electric chainsaw to cut down a CCTV camera, while others vandalized businesses. Meanwhile, Hong Kong police fired tear gas and also admitted in a statement that they accidentally fired a water cannon filled with colored water that affected the entrance of Hong Kong's Kowloon mosque, calling the incident "most unfortunate." [BBC, The South China Morning Post] 6.The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on Saturday accused Turkey of violating the cease-fire agreement orchestrated between Washington and Ankara on Thursday. The SDF said Turkish strikes killed at leas 20 civilians and 14 of its fighters in northern Syria since the deal was struck, though it reportedly couldn't be determined whether the strikes were carried out by Turkish forces or allied Syrian rebel groups. Kurdish forces also said Turkey was blocking their withdrawal from the border region. Turkish officials maintained Turkey was in compliance with the cease-fire and blamed the SDF and the YPG, a Kurdish militia, for launching multiple attacks against Turkish troops. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also warned Saturday that Ankara would move forward with its military offensive in northern Syria if the deal was not fully implemented. Light fighting reportedly resumed Sunday in a border town. [The Wall Street Journal, Reuters] 7.Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held his first presidential rally since suffering a heart attack earlier this month, delivering a speech to an estimated 26,000-person crowd in Queens. If the numbers are accurate, it would serve as the largest crowd any Democratic presidential candidate has held this year, eclipsing the number of people who gathered to see Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speak in New York in September. "To put it bluntly," Sanders said, "I am back." He was joined on stage by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a popular progressive freshman congresswoman, who, as expected, officially endorsed Sanders for president at the rally. [Politico, The New Yorker] 8.Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) said Saturday he does not plan to run for re-election. Rooney said he accomplished his goals in Congress, namely getting money for Everglades projects and passing an offshore drilling ban to protect Florida. Rooney also said he wanted to be a "model for term limits" and that people need to realize "this is public service not public life." Rooney, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the announcement that he will likely retire from the House after he recently said he was still considering voting to impeach President Trump because he didn't think it was feasible to rule it out "until you know all the facts." [CNN, USA Today] 9.A bulletproof marker was reportedly dedicated Saturday to Emmett Till — a 14-year-old black teenager who was kidnapped, beaten, and lynched in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman — after previous ones had been vandalized by gunfire. Members of Till's family, including one cousin who was present the night Till was kidnapped and is last living witness to the incident, attended the ceremony at the site where Till's body was pulled form the Tallahatchie River. Till's murder was a major catalyst of the civil rights movement, and the Justice Department reopened the investigation into his death last year after reportedly receiving new information. [CBS News, Fox News] 10.The Houston Astros are returning to the World Series for the second time in three seasons after defeating the New York Yankees, 6-4, in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. It was a tightly contested game, as both teams utilized their bullpens to the max. Houston jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but the Yankees clawed their way back, eventually tying the game in the top of the 9th inning behind a two-run home run from first baseman D.J. LeMahieu. But Astros second baseman and the series' Most Valuable Player José Altuve launched a two-run walkoff homer in the bottom half of the inning off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman to seal the series victory. Houston will host the National League Champion Washington Nationals in the World Series, which begins Tuesday. [ESPN, MLB.com]


Pentagon chief says US troops leaving Syria for western Iraq

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 7:23am

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that under current plans all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the American military will continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent its resurgence. Esper, who arrived in the Afghan capital on Sunday, did not rule out the idea that U.S. forces would conduct counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria. Esper, who flew overnight to Afghanistan, said he has spoken to his Iraqi counterpart about the plan to shift about 1,000 troops leaving Syria into western Iraq.


Pelosi in Jordan for 'vital discussions' amid Syria crisis

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 7:01am

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a group of American lawmakers on a surprise visit to Jordan to discuss "the deepening crisis" in Syria amid a shaky U.S.-brokered cease-fire. The visit came after bipartisan criticism in Washington has slammed President Donald Trump for his decision to withdraw the bulk of U.S. troops from northern Syria — clearing the way for Turkey's wide-ranging offensive against the Kurdish groups, who had been key U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State group. Turkey agreed on Thursday to suspend its offensive for five days, demanding the Kurdish forces withdraw from a designated strip of the border about 30 kilometers deep (19 miles).


Emmanuel Macron Can’t Save Boris Johnson

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 7:00am

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Whoever came up with the Article 50 process for leaving the European Union probably never thought it would be used, let alone turned into a maddening form of procedural torture worthy of Kafka.Brexit was meant to have been wrapped up in March, yet the U.K.’s inability to decide what it wants has frustrated the best-laid plans of Brussels’s technocrats. After Westminster’s three rejections of former prime minister Theresa May’s original Brexit deal, and after the EU’s two extensions of the original Brexit deadline, Boris Johnson is now in Downing Street and we’ve entered a Bizarro World where reality has been turned upside down.We have a new Brexit deal that the EU insists is not a renegotiation, a special arrangement for Northern Ireland that the U.K. says is not a backstop (the name of the original guarantee in May’s deal to avoid a hard border in Ireland), and an official British request for an extension to the Oct. 31 deadline that Johnson says he doesn’t want.You can imagine the EU’s 27 other leaders taking deep breaths and counting to 10. The bloc has made a Herculean effort to parry British attempts to divide its members on Brexit, and last week’s hard-fought new deal with Johnson was greeted with back-slapping relief. Finally, the EU could get on with other issues, from a tariff war with Donald Trump’s America to tackling climate change and trying to hold a firm line on China.France’s president Emmanuel Macron showered Johnson in compliments, no doubt glad that seeing off the Brits — amicably, of course — would remove an obstacle to his ambitions for deeper EU integration. Now, once again, the prospect of delay is back, and with it the threat of more contagion as Britain’s dysfunctional national politics infects the orderly running of the EU and threatens that cherished unity.So what should the bloc do? Responding hastily is in nobody’s interest. Parliament hasn’t actually voted on the new Brexit deal yet. The demand for a three-month extension was forced on Johnson by British lawmakers as a way to make sure the Halloween deadline wouldn’t let him and his Brexiter allies bully the House of Commons into accepting “his deal or no deal.” Any ruling from Brussels on an extension before Parliament votes on Johnson’s deal (which may happen in the next couple of days) would be seen as meddling in U.K. politics. Likewise, siding with Johnson by ruling out any delay would mean committing the EU to an ugly and economically damaging no-deal split on Oct. 31 if Westminster failed to rubber-stamp his deal.If Members of Parliament do approve Johnson’s deal rapidly, the debate is moot. The EU would obviously give the U.K. enough time to jump through the various legislative hoops to put Brexit into law.Where things get complicated is if Westminster thwarts Macron’s plans for a quick divorce and rejects Johnson’s deal. If the deal fails by a handful of votes, and if those votes come from Johnson’s disgruntled allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party, then Macron’s more hawkish views on an extension could hold sway. Brussels might offer only a short delay (less than the three months asked for) to try to force the last few holdout MPs into line or face a no-deal exit. But if Johnson’s deal is defeated heavily in the Commons, as May’s deal was, that will show the EU that Britain needs deeper political change to break the logjam. More dovish European calls for a longer extension — long enough to accommodate a general election or a second referendum — would probably win the day. Even if it appears today that some kind of extension is inevitable, no one should underestimate how tense this debate might become among the EU’s leaders. The situation is very different to when May was in power, when hardcore Brexiters complained that she had done a poor job and boasted they could get a better deal from Brussels. Brexiters don’t blame the EU anymore for what is clearly a U.K. problem: Parliament’s inability to decide.Macron’s impatience with London is spreading to his fellow leaders, with Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel talking of Britain as a post-Brexit “competitor.” There’s a point where infinite delays will be deemed costlier than no deal.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at llaurent2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Libya coast guard intercepts dozens of Europe-bound migrants

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 6:02am

Libya's coast guard says it's intercepted dozens of Europe-bound migrants off the country's Mediterranean coast. Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said Sunday the migrants were returned to shore and would be taken to a detention center in the capital, Tripoli. Gassim said a rubber boat with 89 African migrants, including 16 women and two children, was stopped Saturday off Libya's western town of Khoms, around 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Tripoli.


EXPLAINER-What happens next after UK PM Johnson writes Brexit delay letter?

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 5:18am

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sent an unsigned letter to the European Union requesting a delay to Britain's exit from the bloc, as well as a second note saying he did not want a "deeply corrosive" Brexit extension. Johnson was required by law to send the first letter, after parliament voted on Saturday to withhold its approval of his Brexit deal until it has passed legislation to formally ratify the agreement. Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the lower house of parliament, or House of Commons, said on Saturday the government planned to put Johnson's exit deal to a debate and vote on Monday.


EU pursues Brexit ratification despite delay request

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 4:58am

Brussels officials on Sunday pressed on with plans to ratify the divorce deal as European leaders considered Prime Minister Boris Johnson's reluctant request for a Brexit delay. Ambassadors and senior officials from the other 27 member states met Sunday after British MPs forced Johnson to send EU Council president Donald Tusk a late request to postpone the withdrawal. "The EU is keeping all options open and has therefore initiated the ratification process so that it can be handed over to the European Parliament on Monday," an EU diplomat told AFP.


Long-haul, fuel efficient jets underpin demand at Las Vegas air show

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 4:14am

New large corporate planes that can fly farther and an industry push toward sustainable aviation fuels are seen as bright spots as the world's biggest business jet makers assemble in Las Vegas to showcase their offerings at the sector's largest gathering. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) annual corporate aircraft show kicks off on Tuesday against a backdrop of slowing global economic growth, trade tensions between the United States and China and Brexit uncertainties, factors seen softening demand for corporate jets in the next two years, industry executives and analysts say. General Dynamics' Gulfstream, Bombardier, Textron's Cessna, Dassault Aviation and Embraer SA saw their order backlogs grow 7% in 2019, the first rise since the 2008 financial crisis, said aviation analyst Rolland Vincent.


This Really Is a Crunch Week for Brexit

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 3:59am

(Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Balance of Power newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more.It’s 11 days until the U.K. is due to shed its European Union membership and, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson so often says, “take back control.”Problem is, right now there’s no control. Headed into yet another “crunch” week for Brexit where anything could happen, the U.K. is careering towards a true crisis.A special sitting of parliament yesterday resulted in another defeat for Johnson. Lawmakers, stung by his repeated efforts to bypass them, slapped him with an amendment that required him to ask the EU to defer Brexit until Jan. 31. Johnson grudgingly sent that letter — unsigned — late in the evening. He sent another — this one he signed — arguing a further delay would be a mistake.There are two things to watch: whether the EU grants an extension (see more below on that) and the gyrations in the U.K. Parliament. Debate on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (which implements Brexit) could begin as soon as Tuesday, after the prime minister makes another attempt tomorrow to get Parliament to sign off on the principle of his deal.It’s a massive gamble for a leader lacking a parliamentary majority. The whole thing will be decided by a handful of votes. Johnson will need all of his powers of persuasion and famous oratory wit. The ticking clock, and the desire among lawmakers to avoid a chaotic no-deal exit, might help him.In the incredible three-year soap opera of Brexit, the finale will be a cliff-hanger.Key HeadlinesNumber crunching | Lawmakers voted 322 to 306 to force Johnson to seek an extension — an insurance policy against a no-deal Brexit if there’s still no agreement by Oct. 31. He needs to persuade 61 Members of Parliament to back his deal. Rob Hutton and Greg Ritchie crunched the numbers to conclude Johnson now has 62, based on what lawmakers said and did both in the debate before yesterday’s vote and during it.Click here for a look at how lawmakers voted on the extension amendment.The options | Everything in theory is still on the table. Johnson could get his deal through before Oct. 31. He might fail and negotiate more time with Brussels. He might fail and try and bypass parliament, triggering legal and other challenges. He might fail and try to crash out on Oct. 31 with no deal at all. He might decide to throw everything aside and call a snap election. If you're exhausted by it all, Sky News is offering Brits an escape from the drama with a new Brexit-free news channel.Europe's view | Many European officials oppose Brexit. “Our door will always remain open,” EU Council President Donald Tusk said last week after the deal with the EU was reached. French President Emmanuel Macron has said he doesn't think a delay should be granted, signaling frustration at how long this has dragged on. But the general feeling is the EU would prefer another delay to a chaotic no-deal exit. Tusk said last night he'll start consulting leaders on how to react, which may take a few days. A unanimous vote is needed to grant an extension.Read the in-the-room rundown of how Johnson got his agreement with Europe.Sticking point | The biggest obstacle to getting the deal through parliament is the historically fraught border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, set to become the only land crossing between the EU and the U.K. after Brexit. The plan agreed by EU negotiators would see a new type of border emerge not on land, but in the Irish Sea. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which wants to remain part of the U.K., says it can't support the plan.Business imperative | Some trade bodies had urged lawmakers to ratify the Brexit deal, simply to put an end to three years of uncertainty that have clouded their prospects and hampered investment plans. Passing it would trigger a transition period that preserves much of the current trading architecture. U.K. businesses see avoiding a no-deal exit as the overriding priority. Now the door has opened to an extension, which they may welcome.And finally....Hundreds of thousands marched through central London yesterday, converging on Westminster to call for a second referendum on leaving the EU. They sang songs, chanted “Object to Brexit” and waved EU and British flags. As it began to rain, Johnson’s defeat in the House of Commons was greeted with loud cheers outside. \--With assistance from Karl Maier.To contact the author of this story: Rosalind Mathieson in London at rmathieson3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Kathleen Hunter at khunter9@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


UK opposition Labour's Starmer: Johnson should have sent one letter to EU

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 3:20am

Britain's opposition Labour Party said on Sunday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was behaving in a childish way by sending two letters to the European Union, one requesting a delay to Brexit and one saying he did not want an extension. Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer the party would put forward amendments to Johnson's Brexit deal legislation, particularly aimed at closing the "trap door" to no deal Brexit at the end of a transition period in December 2020. The law is very clear he should have signed one letter ... If we crash out, because of what he has done with the letters, in 11 days time without a deal he bears personal responsibility for that," Starmer told BBC television.


British lawmaker Letwin says: PM Johnson will probably get Brexit deal through

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 3:13am

British lawmaker Oliver Letwin said on Sunday that he believed Prime Minister Boris Johnson could probably get his Brexit deal over the line. Letwin, who derailed Johnson's plans to pass an agreement on Saturday by putting forward an amendment which withheld approval of the deal until formal ratification legislation has passed, said he would propose no more amendments this week. "I am absolutely behind the government now as long as they continue with this bill, continue with the deal, I will support it, I will vote for it," Letwin told BBC television.


Gove Says EU Granting Extension Not a Sure Thing: Brexit Update

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 3:07am

(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Parliament voted Saturday for Boris Johnson to request a further delay to Brexit. The prime minister will introduce the legislation needed this week for the U.K. to leave the European Union on Oct. 31. The parliamentary rejection on Saturday increases the risk that the U.K. will crash out of the trading bloc without an agreement, a senior cabinet minister said.Key DevelopmentsJohnson sends letter to Brussels formally asking the European Union to delay Brexit until Jan. 31, as stipulated by law, but made it clear he’d rather there was no extensionMove came after MPs voted by 322 to 306 for Letwin amendment forcing government to request Brexit delayEuropean Council President Donald Tusk to consult EU leaders on how to reactJohnson could yet deliver on pledge to get Britain out of the EU by the end of the month, an analysis of Saturday’s vote reveals.Johnson Has Support to Pass Brexit Deal (9:45 a.m.)Michael Gove, the cabinet minister in charge of no-deal Brexit preparations, said Johnson has the support to win a vote on the Brexit deal he negotiated with the EU but the government was making preparation in case the U.K. crashes out without a deal. Should Parliament reject the Johnson deal in a vote expected this week there might not be any extension to the Oct. 31 deadline, Gove said on Sky TV’s “Sophy Ridge on Sunday.”“If we don’t back this deal, then the risk is that the European Council may not grant an extension,” he said. “We can’t bet on that. It’s not a sure thing.”The government is relying on lawmakers such as Amber Rudd, a former cabinet minister, who backed the Letwin amendment but says she will support the deal this week. “We do want to leave with a deal and this deal from the prime minister is good enough for me,” she said.Rudd, who walked out of the government and quit the Tory whip in protest at the expulsion of 21 colleagues, said she expected many of that group would also back the deal.Why the Delay, Foreign Secretary Asks? (9:44 a.m.)Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the numbers appear to exist in Parliament to get the deal passed, so the question is “why aren’t we getting on with it?’’“The whole economy will get a boost, the rancor will come out of the debate,’’ he told the Andrew Marr show on BBC TV.Labour Pushing for Second Referendum (9:33 a.m.)Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for the the Labour opposition, said any deal needs to be subject to a second referendum with an option to remain in the EU. “We’ll have to see tactically how we get there,” he told BBC TV’s “Andrew Marr Show” Sunday.Labour will table amendments to the Brexit bill covering issues such as the environment and workers’ rights, and it was inevitable that a second-referendum amendment would emerge, probably from the beckbenches, he said.EU Ambassadors Fail to Discuss Delay Request (9:08 a.m.)EU ambassadors meeting in Brussels Sunday morning did not discuss Johnson’s Brexit delay request. The meeting had been scheduled to work out the EU approval process once Parliament had signed off on the deal, which it failed to do on Saturday.Former BOE Governor Dismisses Economic Forecasts (9 a.m.)Former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King expressed his frustration that Brexit remains unresolved, saying the feeling among the British public is “just do it.” Brexit, he said, has provoked a political and constitutional crisis, but leaving the EU is unlikely to have a “major” impact of the British economy longer term either way, he said in a Sky interview shown Sunday.“It’s a mistake to try and map out a particular deal into precise numbers,” he said of forecasts that Britain will be significantly worse off outside the EU. “A lot of bogus quantification has gone on to try to justify positions.”Farage Prefers General Election to “Rotten Deal” (8:50 a.m.)Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said he’d rather Brexit was extended and a general election held than see Johnson’s “rotten deal” being passed in Parliament.“An extension for a few weeks into which we can have a general election is a much better outcome than signing up to a treaty that becomes part of international law that binds us in foreign policy and in many, many other areas,” he told Sophy Ridge.Is Johnson in Contempt of Parliament? (8:33 a.m.)Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell for the Labour Party said Johnson may be in contempt of Parliament because the prime minister refused to personally sign the letter sent to Brussels requesting a Brexit extension. Speaking on Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday show, he accused Johnson of “behaving a bit like a spoilt brat”Earlier:Johnson Asks EU for Brexit Delay, But Hopes He Won’t Need It (2)Johnson Might Yet Get Brexit Done: Counting the VotesTo contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Atkinson in London at a.atkinson@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at fobrien@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Britain's Raab: we have the numbers to pass a Brexit deal

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 2:57am

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government seemed to have the numbers in the House of Commons to pass Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal. Raab said he was confident the United Kingdom would leave the EU on Oct. 31.


UK is going to leave the EU by Oct. 31 - Gove says

Yahoo World News Feed - October 20, 2019 - 2:56am

Brexit will happen by October 31, British government minister Michael Gove said on Sunday, despite lawmakers forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to send a letter on Saturday to the EU requesting a delay. "We are going to leave by October 31, we have the means and the ability to do so," Gove, the minister is in charge of no deal Brexit preparations, told Sky News.


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